How many calories do you burn while sleeping?
While you don’t really do much while sleeping when it comes to burning calories, you actually do burn calories while you sleep and need energy while sleeping. The amount of calories burned during the night depends on your weight, height and age, in just the same way as a person’s basal metabolic rate depends on their age and weight. You need calories to maintain an ideal body temperature, cells are repairing themselves during sleep, your heart is beating while you sleep and your brain is still functioning, even when you are unconscious.
How to calculate calories burned while sleeping
The basal metabolic rate or BMR can be calculated and represents the number of calories burned in a single day while not doing any activity. You can calculate your basal metabolic rate by using the following formulas:
The Mifflin St. Jeor BMR Equation
Men: The basal metabolic rate equals 10 x weight in kg + 6.25 x height in cm – 5 x age in years + 5
Women: The basal metabolic rate equals 10 x weight in kg + 6.25 x height in cm – 5 x age in years – 161.
As an example, a person weighing approximately 150 pounds can burn about 69 calories per hour, while a different person weighing only 115 pounds will burn only about 40 calories per hour. The more you weigh, the more calories you burn. Younger people burn more calories during the night than older people, who are in REM sleep less than young people.
The deeper the level of sleep, the more calories you burn. This means that when you are having trouble sleeping and are tossing and turning, you actually burn fewer calories in any given hour than when you are sleeping soundly. You burn just as many calories while sleeping, in the range of 500-800 calories in any given night, as you do while sitting around watching television or reading.
When you are in REM sleep or dreaming sleep, your brain needs more glucose than when you are in non-REM sleep. Your brain almost exclusively uses glucose for fuel, which is a simple sugar measured as your “blood sugar” level on a glucometer. Brain activity during REM sleep can exceed that of your waking state so that it burns more calories in your sleep than it does while you are awake.
Eating before bed to lose weight
If you eat something before sleep, you actually burn calories in the act of digesting food, whether or not you are sleeping during that time. Eating before sleep can prevent a lowering of blood sugar in the night, which can awaken you in the middle of the night. It can also rev up your metabolic rate so that you burn more calories when sleeping to lose weight if you recently ate before sleeping.
Exercising before bed
Exercise can raise the metabolic rate during the exercise and for several hours after you exercise. This can include a rise in metabolic rate during your sleep. Try not to exercise right before sleep or within 4 hours of sleeping as it can interfere with getting to sleep at night. However, if you still would like to exercise before bedtime, try to include yoga, Pilates, or deep meditation before going to sleep. This will help you lose weight by increasing your metabolic rate while you sleep. These are calming and strengthening exercises that will help you burn nighttime calories after the exercise is over with.
How to burn more calories while sleeping
In order to burn more calories during sleep, you need to have more REM sleep than non-REM sleep. You need to go to sleep at about the same time every night, after which you will go into REM sleep about 90 minutes into your sleep state. You will burn more calories while in this state of sleep. An episode of non-REM sleep and an episode of REM sleep together constitute a single “sleep cycle”. You will have several complete sleep cycles during the course of your night’s sleep and will burn more calories during each of these sleep cycles.
Sleep with a light blanket and thinner pajamas while sleeping. This forces your body to work harder to bring up your metabolic rate and body temperature during sleep. If you are bundled up, you hang on to your body temperature longer and the body doesn’t burn as many calories during sleep hours. Your body has a set thermostat for sleeping that it will try to maintain all through the night.
Get a good night’s rest of around 8-9 hours of sleep at night
You do not really get any benefit from sleeping less and staying awake more. This is because when you get less than about 7 hours of sleep at night, the levels of the hormone ghrelin rise, which is a signal to the body to eat more food. Instead of sleeping, you will be hungry and will end up craving high calorie, high carb foods. Giving into these cravings and eating is counterproductive to what you are trying to do by sleeping less. If you are sleep deprived, you will naturally eat more food and will gain weight rather than lose weight.
In one research study out of Northwestern University from 2009, it was found in animal models that if the participants ate during the time when they would normally be sleeping rather than in the daytime hours, the nighttime eaters gained 48 percent more body weight than those who ate only during daytime hours and slept a more normal sleep patterns. This is felt to be due to your biologically-oriented Circadian rhythm, which permits more burning of calories during the day when compared to burning calories at night. And finally, avoid drinking alcohol three hours or sooner before going to bed will block REM sleep and so, while it seems you are getting a good night’s sleep, you won’t be in REM sleep as much and will burn fewer calories during the night.
The bottom line? Get a good night’s rest of around 8-9 hours of sleep at night will promote the most calories burned during the night. Rely on the body’s basal metabolic rate to continue to help you burn more calories at night.